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UN chief condemns rocket fire from Gaza, urges maximum Israeli restraint

(Xinhua)

13:50, October 31, 2011

UNITED NATIONS, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-general Ban Ki- moon on Sunday condemned rocket fire from Gaza, and called for " maximum Israeli restraint" after Israel and Palestinian militants exchanged rocket fire and airstrikes.

"The secretary-general has been following with deep concern the recent escalation of violence and bloodshed in southern Israel and Gaza," said a statement issued here by Ban's spokesman.

The secretary-general "condemns rocket fire from Gaza, which has killed an Israeli civilian, and calls for its complete cessation," the statement said. "He urges maximum Israeli restraint following the killing of a reported ten alleged militants."

"He hopes that the parties will fully respect the calm as brokered by Egypt," the statement said, adding that the Office of the Special Coordinator on the ground remains actively engaged in supporting these efforts.

Palestinian militants have fired some 39 rockets at major southern Israeli cities and smaller communities that border Gaza since last Wednesday, according to media reports.

On Saturday, one Israeli was killed and four others wounded when a salvo of Grad rockets hit the coastal city of Ashkelon. Dozens of others were treated for shock, medical sources said.

The attack came at the heels of Israeli airstrikes on militant targets throughout Gaza that reportedly killed nine Palestinians, including Ahmed Sheikh Halil, who allegedly headed the militant group's rocket engineering team.

Saturday's violence was the worst since a major prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist militant group that governs in Gaza.

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